Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Marburg-Kirchain-Alsfeld-Bad Hersfeld-Friedewald- Gerstungen- Eisenach.

Trip dist: 155 kms. Trip time: 9 hrs, 46 min. Tot dist: 4,505 kms.

Today's ride was o.k. but long, though especially pretty was the ride through the Turingian Forest and the descent into Eisenach. I don't have pictures for you today, unfortunately, because my memory card got full and I could find no internet for the past two days in the little villages, and even if it hadn't been by the time I got to the forest darkness was threatening so I was in too much of a hurry anyway.

A strange thing happened to me almost as soon as I crossed into the former GDR. While in West Germany people were really trying to help me and would go well out of their way to do so (in their strange ways--Just today I had a gentleman in his 30s at a stoplight direct me out of the main road I was in towards a bike path--one I didn't want to take because it went uphill over a tall bridge that the car path went under--, and after ensuring I got on it--waiting until he saw me get on it, that is, not 1 km later caught up to me in the car as well, rolled down the window, and explained to me that it would've been "too dangerous" to stay on the car road back where he...ah....encouraged me to get off. He then proceeded to give me detailed directions--again going for at least 10 minutes and through several of the future towns I was to pass--on how to go towards Alsfeld which was where I told the gentleman I was headed next, even getting out of the car to show me on the map I had confusedly popped open after hearing names of towns I had not for once seen while planning the route in the morning, and then happily wished me a safe trip before getting back inside his car and speeding off), here the people seem to be a bit more...mistrustful.

I arrived into Eisenach (what a pretty city! Birthplace of J.S. Bach, too! [Ian, you jealous? ;P] Still looks like it was preserved in the 1600's style) near dusktime and asked a gentleman in his 40's with his wife how to get to the Youth Hostel. He pointed me to the large map displayed next to the bus stop and said I could look it up on the map myself (the map was only of city center and the Youth Hostel, on the outskirts of town, was not on it: I had checked prior to asking him). It was a bit unexpected, given the experience with other people's "help" up until now. {shrug}.

Then later, when I arrived at the Youth Hostel they claimed they didn't have a place and were overbooked, even though the Hostel sounded very quiet, it was a Tuesday (hostels tend to get crowded more on weekends Thrusday through Saturday nights, in my experience), and let's face it, Eisenach being such a small city is rather off the beaten path for tourists. I asked the young man at the reception if he could recommend another nearby hotel. He could not. O.K., did he know of any other hotels in Eisenach? He did not. O.K. then. Left reception to check the Lonely Planet guide and call some hotels. No replies on most of them. Started to get worried. Went back to reception. Could the young man please help me find a hotel? He produced a phone book for me. I stared back at him incredulous, tired, and at the end crestfallen. I asked him helplessly and in a tiny voice if there was an area code (the phone numbers in the book looked a bit short) to dial first. Finally, it clicked. Just like U.S. customer service, you need to turn on the switch so that the customer service people start to care. He offered to call them up for me. Finally, thanks. But turns out they had no place, either. Look sad and crestfallen again (this time a bit more studied, but hey, whatever works, right?). It was close to 10 p.m. already, the sad studied face was masking the real feelings of anxiety and worry, should I ask him if I could at least crash in a service room, a basement, a couch, a lounge, something? "O.K.," he finally said. "There is someone who made reservations but since it is already 10 p.m. and they're not here, I'll just give you the room. By 9:00 p.m. you lose your reservation anyway." I exhaled a sigh of relief. He gave me the keys, I parked my bike and walked with my bags upstairs to my designated dorm room.

I was the only person in a room for 6 people.




Anonymous said...

Ser un libre pensador, actor , artista, es a veces muy dificil de aceptar para las gentes que tienen la parte lógica muy desarrollada verdad? Y si ademas son muy ordenados pues todavía más , T.Q.M XOXO.